"Brooklyn's Bridges: Engineering as Art & Inspiration" Exhibition

Brooklyn Public Library (Central)

poster for "Brooklyn's Bridges: Engineering as Art & Inspiration" Exhibition

This event has ended.

Marianne Moore was referring specifically to the Brooklyn Bridge when she wrote in her poem "Granite and Steel":

way out; way in; romantic passageway
first seen by the eye of the mind,
then by the eye. O steel! O stone!

Brooklyn is blessed with bridges. We can boast of a triumvirate of centenarians. In addition to the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, which continues to retain its special historical and aesthetic significance, the Manhattan Bridge or the Williamsburg Bridge will take us across the East River by car, subway, bicycle or foot. Should we wish to cross the bay to Staten Island, we can traverse the elegant engineering marvel that is the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the Americas. A host of more modest structures round out Brooklyn's remarkable inventory of man-made crossings.

Brooklyn's major bridges remind us that we are geographically part of an island, Long Island, at the very same time that they reduce the significance of our separation by anchoring us to the mainland. Brooklyn's bridges helped to join Brooklyn to the city of New York, and then made it possible for the huddled immigrant masses of the Lower East Side to spread out in more spacious and still partly agrarian surroundings. More recently this exodus from Manhattan was re-enacted when refugees from high real estate prices brought their talents across the river and settled not far from the bases of the Williamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.

Bridges make for powerful, if much overused, metaphors, but their sheer physical reality can be arresting ("O steel! O stone!"). They embody tons upon tons of materials, mined, forged, transported, assembled and constructed with the skill, sweat and, all too often, the very lives of countless workers. They also embody our ambitions as a society, our commercial aspirations, our need for communication and connectedness, our desire to leave a tangible mark upon the earth demonstrating and celebrating what, at our best, we are capable of achieving.

No wonder, then, that Brooklyn's bridges have long fascinated artists in a wide range of media. This exhibition brings together the work of 17 visual artists who have chosen to explore these omnipresent and monumental features of our daily lives. Their work reflects a range of responses - among which we can readily detect awe, a sense of mystery, scientific curiosity and simple sensual delight - that can be readily shared by all who have passed under the shadow and the spell of these Behemoths that sit astride our urban landscape.

Jay Kaplan, Director
Programs & Exhibitions
Brooklyn Public Library


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